Species distribution modelling:

Exotic plants naturalised in Australia

Introduced species have been an important research area for some time. This is probably due, in part, to the multiple motivations for their study. First, many questions in ecology relate to how species interact, how species disperse and establish in new areas. Introduced species (that is, those whose movement have been facilitated by human activity) provide an interesting "natural" experiment in the ways and means of dispersal and establishement as well as aspects of community assembly.

The second motivation is more practical - often, introduced species go on to become serious pests with large social, economic or conservation impacts. Large amounts of money and other resouces may be mobilised to counter perceived threats, so there is great interest (and strong socio-economic motivation) to act wisely, effectively and efficiently in dealing with the threat of introduced species.

Species distribution modelling has become an important tool in the study of introduced species.

Materials and methods

Briefly, the methods used were:

  • Occurrence data was gathered from GBIF and ALA
  • Climate data was provided by WordClim current or baseline climate and future climate for 2050 derived from 14 GCM used in the IPCC AR4
  • Models of climate suitability were fitted using current climate and projected onto the 14 future climates
  • A mean map of predicted climate suitability was made across the 14 projections to give a consensus map

A detailed description of the methods used is provided here.

The big (emergent) picture

What do we see when we consolidate SDMs for a large and diverse collection of species? The results so far challenge some preconceived notions of what could happen to weeds under climate change. Perhaps the biggest result is that many of the worst weeds of the later part of the 20th Century will most likely not be as great a threat in the 21st Century. There are many naturalised species "waiting in the wings" ready to emerge as the next greatest threat to sustainable food production and biodiversity conservation. Continued...

Exotic plants naturalised in Australia

With such a large and diverse group to model, there are many ways to present the results. I have used the following groupings because often an exotic naturalised plant species will appear in a number of the groups. Following one of the links below will take you to an index page from which you may access the species accounts for group members.

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Latest news

Species distribution models (available here) for most microchiropteran species in Australia and New Guinea have been completed.

All 2,532 introduced plant species in Australia have been re-modelled to incorporate the latest distribution records from GBIF and ALA. See the results here.

Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) list updated: The Australian Weeds Committee announced on 20 April 2012 that 12 additional species/species complexes had been added to the declared WoNS list. Further information is available at Weeds Australia. The WoNS table for my models found here has been updated to reflect this change.